While much of the advice in this section is applicable to all businesses, the innovative nature of sustainable enterprises makes paying attention to the basics even more important.
An integrated financial strategy and product commercialization targets are essential. Among the 'musts' are:
The entrepreneur will also need to attract various advisers such as board members and experts, and enter into agreements with other individuals and organizations (for example suppliers, sales agents, and brokers) that can boost the firm's capacity to secure financing and to deliver its business plan.
A sustainable enterprise that does not adhere to the tried and true rules of business planning will find it virtually impossible to obtain funds from capital markets.
Some of the aspects of business planning that are unique to sustainable enterprises are addressed in the following sections.
Markets for sustainable enterprises (whether environmental or otherwise) are relatively new. Many are also global. To reassure the investor that markets for the product or service exist or can be developed, entrepreneurs should:
The environmental problems that confront the world, ranging from climate change and ozone depletion to toxic waste, are sometimes directly addressed by technological solutions offered by sustainable enterprises. This fact must be communicated to investors. Capital markets are generally not well informed about the scale of environmental degradation or about such drivers as global environmental agreements. The economic benefits of technologies such as wind turbines, which are rapidly becoming more competitive, are not well understood by investors.
Sustainable entrepreneurs should:
The sustainable entrepreneur will find technology a powerful card to play when seeking investment. It has two potentially strong suits. Firstly, when the technology's key selling feature is cost savings, the investor readily understands the potential return. Secondly, when there is an opportunity to finance 'first on the street' technology, the investor may appreciate getting in early.
The sustainable enterprise respects the environment by minimizing energy and resource consumption and reducing waste generation. These practices reduce the firm's operating costs and liability exposure.
Sustainable entrepreneurs should emphasize these advantages in their business plan by:
In summary, sustainable entrepreneurs can put themselves in a stronger position to raise capital by ensuring that their business plan highlights the emerging markets from which the business will profit, the technological solutions the company offers to environmental problems, and the sustainable manner in which the company operates.
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